I am happy to inform you that this post was published by the Kochi edition of The New Indian Express, a leading English daily in India, on 17th February, 2009 in their centre page under the TIME OUT column. Actually I had posted this in my blog on 3rd June, 2008. A few days back I emailed the post with some modifications to the INDIAN EXPRESS and was delighted to see that it was published. Please read and enjoy.
One afternoon, after a heavy lunch, I got into a red killer bus at Menaka bus stop to go to my bank at Pallimukku. It was an unusually hot day and the bus was overcrowded. I hung on to the overhead bar and looked around. One kind man gestured towards me offering a seat next to him. He was sitting in the last row of seats that could seat six people.There were five people there and he pushed the man sitting next to him and made space for me. I gratefully acknowledged his magnanimous act and squeezed myself onto the seat. Those of you who travel in a bus will agree that it is better to sit uncomfortably than to stand in an overcrowded bus. People push, jostle and elbow with no mercy.
So I sat down and heaved a sigh of relief. I smiled at the man and thanked him for being so kind. He smiled back and nodded in acknowledgement. It is very difficult in these days to find such good and decent people. I relaxed. As mentioned earlier, I had had a heavy lunch and I felt drowsy. My eyes closed in spite of my best efforts to keep them open. I woke up with a start when the driver applied the brakes at a bus stop. I half opened my eyes and found the space next to me was vacant and the kind soul who had offered me the seat was about to alight from the bus.
He looked at me and I looked at him. He had a strange, startled look on his face. I didn’t bother and he jumped off the bus. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. The bus started moving.At frequent intervals I used to check my breast pocket to ensure that my mobile and money were there. The very next time I checked, I found my mobile missing. I panicked and desperately looked at the people seated and standing near me hoping that one of them would give me clue about my missing mobile. They seemed least bothered.
I realized that my mobile phone had been taken by the “kind soul” who had offered me a seat! I screamed, “ Stop the bus! Stop the bus! My mobile phone has been stolen. The thief got down at the previous stop.” People looked at me as though I was a nuisance. They were not interested in my mobile. Not a soul. They were only concerned about reaching their destination and reaching it fast. The bus driver did not bother to stop. Some even told me to shut up.
Finally the bus came to a stop at the next stop. I quickly scrambled out and ran back to the previous stop which was quite a distance away. I thought perhaps the thief would be hanging around and I could catch him red handed. When I reached the stop, huffing and puffing, there was no thief waiting there. Of course, it was foolish on my part to even think that he would be hanging around.
My thoughts rushed around. How will I contact my customers? How will they contact me? I will lose a big chunk of business. The thief could have at least given me the SIM card. He will get a measly amount from a second hand dealer. I would have willingly given him that money. I was completely shattered and stood there for a long time cursing my fate and mumbling abuses at the goddamn thief --- that kind soul.